April’s meeting with Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society

Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society preserves the fishing community’s medieval right to continue using the stone beach (known as ‘the Stade’). At our April meeting, Hastings Chamber members were informed about the current challenges the fishing fleet are facing since Brexit, as well as the work they do for the local economy.

Starting off at one of the best fish and chip restaurants in the UK – Maggie’s Fish and Chips – chamber members got the chance to network with one another before hearing from Paul and Yasmin from the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society.

The history of the Stade is one which dates to over a thousand years ago back in medieval times. Later, in 1831, the Hastings Fishermen’s Protection Society was formed in order to preserve the fishing community’s rights to work from the beach. These rights were also granted in perpetuity in an Elizabethan Charter in recognition of the town’s contribution in ships to the Crown’s Navy as a premier Cinque Port.

Despite the speed of development that the town presented in the 19th century, the fishing fleet maintained its presence and operations on the Stade. This special recognition as a space for fishermen continues to be entrusted and enshrined in law.

Hastings has a beach-launched artisanal fleet of small boats under 10m carrying on a long tradition of day boat fishing which, with restricted catching capacity, means it operates in an environmentally sustainable way. In recent times, quota restrictions along the South East coast have put the fleet under extreme pressure, slumping individual fishermen’s earnings and reducing locally caught fish within the fish-market. Because of this, they have had to compromise the long history of sustainable and responsible fishing due to the pressure to discard quota species at certain times.

Members had the chance to go on a tour of the beach guided by Paul and Yasmin, to hear the history of the Stade and see some of the locally caught fish. One of the questions asked on this tour was about the use of nets scattered along the beach and if they are reused in any way, to which Yasmin informed us that recycling of nets including a request from Ukraine to re-use nets for camouflage.

The fishing fleet here in Hastings is one that is shouted about so often, bringing in millions of pounds through tourism, and it was so great to have been able to share this with our members! Thank you to Paul and Yasmin, as well as everyone over at Maggie’s Fish and Chips for an incredible lunch.